Report was sent to Downing Street in October last year, in time for publication before the general election
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We think that the entire world needs to work together to ensure that every country – including China – behaves in the international system in ways that are appropriate and consistent with the international order.
You can’t go make claims for maritime regions that you have no lawful claim to. You can’t threaten countries and bully them in the Himalayas. You can’t engage in cover-ups and co-opt international institutions like the World Health Organization …
Ministers at the time, who were put in an incredibly difficult position, in my view, followed the advice given by Sage [the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies], which are clearly signposted through the minutes of Sage, with a delay that was no more than you would reasonably expect for what are really very difficult things to operationalise and decide.
I do not think – I’m not saying now and I’m not going to say at any point, to be clear – that in my view there was huge delay between the advice that ministers received, given the enormity of the difficulties that we were asking of people, and the practical implications of what was being done.
We need a standing capability, right, we need a public health agency that isn’t only brilliant at science, but also is ready to mass scale very, very quickly.
PHE was designed as a scientific organisation, and it is really good as a scientific organisation, and remains so, and has some of the best public health scientists in the world in PHE.
I’ve been accused of over-promising and sometimes delivering.
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And the point is that when you’re handling a pandemic response and the response you need is to scale-up at a speed that is almost unprecedented within government at a national scale, the tools that I found worked were to set demanding goals.
Here is my colleague Luke Harding’s analysis of what we’ve learnt from the ISC’s Russia report.
Four years on we still don’t know the extent of Russian meddling in the referendum. Nor did we discover if it affected the outcome. The Leave.EU campaign – funded by the Bristol businessman Arron Banks – claims the report exonerates their campaign, which included multiple meetings with the Russian ambassador in London. It doesn’t accuse or clear him; Banks makes a brief appearance in a footnote. The question of how deeply Moscow meddled cannot be answered because it was never asked, the ISC says. As the Scottish National party MP and ISC member Stewart Hosie said on Tuesday, nobody in government wished to go near the Russian meddling issue “with a 10ft barge pole” …
Downing Street has said it will not do what the ISC wants. There will be no cross-Whitehall investigation of the EU referendum, it said after the report was released. This position is short-sighted: Putin is happy to support any political party if it suits his strategic purpose. In the absence of a Mueller-style inquiry, the debate over the legitimacy of the UK’s historic vote to leave the EU will rumble on. Neither side won a knockout blow on Tuesday. But the report fuels suspicion that the victorious Brexiters have something to hide, and will leave remainers feeling a little cheerier.